Aston Villa boss Unai Emery appears to be keen on securing midfield reinforcements after the World Cup as the Midlands outfit eye one of his former players…
What’s the word?
According to reports in Spain (via Sport Witness), Emery is keen to reignite Villa’s interest in Atletico Madrid star Geoffrey Kondogbia after an unsuccessful attempt to sign him during the summer.
The 51-year-old and the Central African Republic international briefly crossed paths at Sevilla in 2013 and it’s believed that Villa could submit a €25m (£21.5m) bid in January.
After the arrival of Axel Witsel, the 29-year-old has found game time hard to come by at the Metropolitano, whilst he is also considered to be a player that could generate money for Los Rojiblancos.
Would Kondogbia be a good signing for Villa?
An upgrade in the engine room could be exactly what Villa need to reignite their season under the former Arsenal boss and Kondogbia is a worthy target indeed.
Primarily a defensive midfielder, the Atletico powerhouse has averaged 3.32 tackles and 2.29 interceptions per 90 over the last year and when compared to his positional peers across Europe’s top five divisions, it ranks him within the top 5% and the top 2%, respectively.
Meanwhile, last season in LaLiga, the 6 foot 2 brute ended the campaign as Diego Simeone’s fourth-best player, as per WhoScored figures, outperforming the likes of Rodrigo De Paul and Antoine Griezmann – both of whom are starring at the World Cup right now.
Kondogbia could represent a better option for Emery’s system than McGinn, who does register a similar output of successful tackles but falls short in other areas of the defensive game.
Currently, there are three other midfielders performing better than the Scotsman, according to WhoScored, whilst he was even dropped for the Spaniard’s first game in charge against Manchester United, in which Villa ran out victors.
McGinn has struggled for form ever since being appointed captain by former manager Steven Gerrard at the start of the season, so it could be wise to bring him out of the firing line heading into 2023 and the prospective arrival of Kondogbia could certainly aid that.
Once described as an “octopus” for his imposing ability to win back possession, the Atletico outcast has also been likened to Paul Pogba by his former Inter Milan boss Frank de Boer.
“Kondogbia is like Pogba,” he said (via the Daily Mail). “They play the same position.”
That sort of review makes the potential £21.5m fee look like a drop in the ocean, so it could well be worthwhile for sporting director Johan Lange to push ahead with Emery’s plan to bring Kondogbia to Villa Park this winter.
On the above evidence, the 29-year-old could well be a big upgrade to the struggling McGinn.
AND in other news, Emery could land his own Yaya Toure in Villa swoop for “devastating” £52m-rated powerhouse…